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Ivan Lendl (born March 7, 1960) is a former World No. 1 professional tennis player. Originally from Czechoslovakiamarker, Lendl later became a United Statesmarker citizen. He was one of the game's most dominant players in the 1980s and remained a top competitor into the early 1990s. Tennis magazine named him as one of the ten greatest tennis players since 1966, calling him "the game's greatest overachiever" and emphasizing his importance in the game's history. In his book Modern Encyclopedia of Tennis, Bud Collins included Lendl in his list of the 21 greatest men's tennis players for the period from 1946 through 1992.

Lendl captured eight Grand Slam singles titles. He competed in 19 Grand Slam singles finals, a record for a man since surpassed by Roger Federer in 2009. He reached at least one Grand Slam final for 11 consecutive years, a record for a man since equaled by Pete Sampras.

Lendl first attained the World No. 1 ranking on February 28, 1983 and bolstered his claim to the top spot when he defeated John McEnroe in the 1984 French Openmarker final. For much of the next five years, Lendl was the top ranked player until August 1990 (with a break from September 1988 to January 1989 when Mats Wilander was at the top). He finished four years ranked as the world's top player (1985–87 and 1989) and was ranked World No. 1 for a total of 270 weeks, breaking the record previously held by Jimmy Connors (this has since been surpassed by Pete Sampras).

Lendl's game relied particularly on strength and heavy topspin from the baseline and helped usher in the modern era of "power tennis". He himself called his game as "hitting hot", a relentless all-court game that was coming to dominate in tennis.

Personal life

Lendl was born into a tennis family in Ostravamarker, Czechoslovakiamarker (now Czech Republicmarker). His parents were top players in Czechoslovakia. (His mother Olga was at one point ranked the No. 2 woman player in the country). Lendl turned professional in tennis in 1978. He started to live in the United States in 1981, first at the home of mentor and friend Wojtek Fibak; later, in 1984, Lendl bought his own residence in Greenwich, Connecticutmarker. Ivan applied for and received a U.S. Permanent Resident Card (also known as a Green Card) in 1987 and wanted to get U.S. citizenship as soon as possible to represent the USA in the 1988 Olympic Games and in Davis Cup. A bill in Congress to bypass the traditional five-year waiting procedure was rejected in 1988 because Czechoslovak authorities refused to provide the necessary waivers. He became a U.S. citizen on July 7, 1992.

On September 16, 1989, six days after losing the final of the US Openmarker to Boris Becker, he married Samantha Frankel. They have five daughters - Marika (born May 4, 1990), twins Isabelle and Caroline (born July 29, 1991), Daniela "Crash" (born June 24, 1993) Nikola (born January 20, 1998).He transferred his competitive interests to professional golf where he captured a win on the Celebrity Tour. Still competitive at the mini-tour levels, Lendl now devotes much of his time managing the development of his daughters' golfing abilities. Three of his daughters (Marika, Isabelle and Daniela) play golf at U.S. Girls Juniors level. His other two daughters (Caroline and Nikola) enjoy eventing horses.

At one time in the 1980s, he was a minority owner of the Hartford Whalers of the National Hockey League (now the Carolina Hurricanes).

South African exhibition affair and disputes with Czechoslovak authorities

In July 1983, Lendl played three exhibition matches (against Johan Kriek, Kevin Curren, Jimmy Connors) in Sun Citymarker, in the apartheid-era bantustan of Bophuthatswana. The Czechoslovak Sport Federation (ČSTV), controlled by the Communist Party, expelled him from the Czechoslovak Davis Cup team and fined him $150,000. Lendl disagreed with the punishment and fine.

In addition, the publication of his name and results in the Czechoslovak media was prohibited. The ban was extended not only to Lendl, but to anything about world tennis, all tennis tournaments and both men's and women's circuits (with the exception of blank Grand Slam results without any comments).

The appearance in this exhibition in Sun City and Lendl's Americanized living style ignited a long-lasting dispute between Lendl and Czechoslovak communist authorities, which was never settled and resulted in his decision to apply for a green card in 1987 and later on for U.S. citizenship.

Playing style

Lendl was known, along with Björn Borg, for using his heavy topspin forehand to dictate play. His trademark shot was his running forehand, which he could direct either down the line or cross-court.

Early in his career Lendl played a sliced backhand, but in the early 1980s he learned to hit his backhand with significant topspin. This shift allowed him to defeat John McEnroe in 1984 in the French Open - Lendl's first Grand Slam victory. In the first two sets McEnroe used his habitual proximity to the net to intercept Lendl's cross-court passing shots. In the third set Lendl started using lobs, forcing McEnroe to distance himself from the net to prepare for the lobs. McEnroe's further distance from the net opened the angles for Lendl's cross-court passing shots, which ultimately gained Lendl points and turned the match around.

Lendl's serve was powerful but inconsistent. His very high toss may have been to blame. Lendl's consistency from the baseline was machine-like. Though tall and apparently gangly, Lendl was very fast on the court. Lendl did not win Wimbledon because he could not sufficiently improve his consistency at the net. Grass courts yield notoriously bad bounces, and that destabilized his baseline game more than other baseliners. His groundstroke setup was very complete, almost robotic and repeated bad bounces made him uncomfortable. Wimbledon in those days required reducing baseline play by coming to the net. He devoted considerable effort to improving his net play, but fell short of a Wimbledon title. Toward the end of his days on the ATP tour Lendl ended his long term clothing, shoe and racket deal with Adidas. He signed with Mizuno, and finally began to play with a mid-sized racket very similar to the Adidas racket he had used throughout most of his career.

Tennis career

Lendl first came to the tennis world's attention as an outstanding junior player. In 1978, he won the boy's singles titles at both the French Openmarker and Wimbledonmarker and was ranked the World No. 1 junior player.

Lendl made an almost immediate impact on the game after turning professional. After reaching his first top-level singles final in 1979, he won seven singles titles in 1980, including three tournament wins in three consecutive weeks on three different surfaces. The success continued in 1981 as he won 10 titles.

In 1982, he won in total 15 of the 23 singles tournaments he entered and had a 44-match winning streak.He competed on the separate WCT tour where he won all 10 WCT tournaments he entered.In an era when tournament prize money was rising sharply due to the competition between 2 circuits (Grand Prix and WCT), Lendl's haul of titles quickly made him the highest-earning tennis player of all time.

He won another seven tournaments in 1983.

But Grand Slam titles eluded Lendl in the early years of his career. He reached his first Grand Slam final at the French Open in 1981, where he lost in five sets to Björn Borg. His second came at the US Openmarker in 1982, where he was defeated by Jimmy Connors. In 1983, he was the runner-up at both the Australian Openmarker and the US Open.

Lendl's first Grand Slam title came at the 1984 French Open, where he defeated John McEnroe in a long final to claim what was arguably his best victory. Down two sets to none and later trailing 4–2 in the fourth set, Lendl battled back to claim the title 3–6, 2–6, 6–4, 7–5, 7–5. McEnroe gained a measure of revenge by beating Lendl in straight sets in both finals of the US Open 1984 and Volvo Masters 1984 (played in January 1985).

Lendl lost in the final of the 1985 French Open to Mats Wilander. He then faced McEnroe again in the final of the US Open, and this time it was Lendl who emerged victorious in a straight sets win. It was the first of three consecutive US Open titles for Lendl and part of a run of eight consecutive US Open finals. In 1986 and 1987 he added wins in the French Open to his U.S Open victories.

During each of the years from 1985 through 1987, Lendl's match winning percentage was greater than 90%. This record was equalled by Roger Federer in 2006. Lendl, however, remains the only male tennis player with at least 90% match wins in four different years (1982 was the first). From the 1985 US Open through the 1988 Australian Open, Lendl reached ten consecutive Grand Slam singles semifinals—a record that was broken by Federer at the 2006 US Open.

1989 was another very strong year for Lendl. He started the year by capturing his first Australian Open title with a straight sets final victory over Miloslav Mecir and went on to claim 10 titles out of 17 tournaments he entered. Lendl successfully defended his Australian Open title in 1990.

The only Grand Slam singles title Lendl never managed to win was Wimbledon. After reaching the semifinals in 1983 and 1984, he reached the final there twice, losing in straight sets to Boris Becker in 1986 and Pat Cash in 1987. In the years that followed, Lendl put in intensive efforts to train and hone his game on grass courts. But despite reaching the Wimbledon semifinals again in 1988, 1989 and 1990, he never again reached the final.

Lendl was part of the team that won Czechoslovakia's only Davis Cup title in 1980. He was the driving force behind the country's team in the first half of the 1980s but stopped playing in the event after he moved to the United States in 1986 because, in the eyes of communist Czechoslovakia's Tennis Association, he was an "illegal defector" from their country.

Lendl was also part of the Czechoslovakian team that won the World Team Cup in 1981 and was runner-up in 1984 and 1985.

Lendl won the tour's year-end Masters championships five times in 1981-82 and 1985-87.

Lendl's success in the game had a lot to do with his highly meticulous and intensive training and physical conditioning regime, his scientific approach to preparing for and playing the game, and a strong desire to put in whatever it took to be successful. It is believed that a contributing factor to his run of eight successive US Open finals and long record of success at that tournament was that he hired the same workers who laid the hardcourt surfaces at Flushing Meadowsmarker each year to install an exact copy in the grounds of his home in Greenwichmarker, Connecticutmarker.

Lendl announced his retirement from professional tennis on December 21, 1994, due to chronic back pain. Although he didn't play an official match since his loss in the 2nd round of the US Open in 1994, he made a final decision to retire three and a half months later.

Lendl won a total of 94 career singles titles listed by the ATP (plus 49 other non-ATP tournaments thus making a total of 144 singles titles) and 6 doubles titles, and his career prize money of U.S. $21,262,417 was a record at the time. In 2001, he was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Famemarker.

After finishing his tennis career, Lendl has taken up golf, earning a handicap of 0 and organizing a charity competition in 2004 called the "Ivan Lendl Celebrity Golf Tournament".

Lendl's professional attitude, modern playing style, scientific training methods, and unprecedented long-term success have had a considerable impact on today's tennis world. A typical Lendl quote is: "If I don't practice the way I should, then I won't play the way that I know I can." '

Career achievements


  • These records were attained in Open Era of tennis.
Grand Slam Years Record accomplished Player tied
US Openmarker 1982-89 8 consecutive singles finals Stands alone
Australian Openmarker 1989-91 3 consecutive singles finals Mats Wilander
Australian Open 1989-90 2 consecutive singles titles Ken Rosewall, Guillermo Vilas Johan Kriek, Mats Wilander Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier Andre Agassi, Roger Federer
French Openmarker 1984-87 4 consecutive singles finals Björn Borg Rafael Nadal Roger Federer
US Open 1982-89 8 finals overall Pete Sampras

  • Winner of 8 Grand Slam tournaments (tying Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi and bettered by only 6 male players in tennis history).
  • Won 222 Grand Slam singles matches (third after Connors and Agassi).
  • Eight consecutive singles finals at the US Openmarker (1982-1989), winning three of those finals (1985-1987).
  • Appeared in three consecutive singles finals at the Australian Openmarker, four consecutive finals at the French Openmarker, and two consecutive finals at Wimbledonmarker. During the open era, Borg, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer are the only other male players to appear in four consecutive finals at the French Open.
  • Beginning with the 1982 US Open and extending through the 1991 US Open, Lendl reached at least the semifinals in 27 of the 34 Grand Slam tournaments he played.
  • Second most Grand Slam singles finals (19) in tennis history (after Federer).
  • Second most consecutive Grand Slam singles semifinals during the open era, with ten from the 1985 US Open through the 1988 Australian Open (after Federer).
  • Second most consecutive Grand Slam singles quarterfinals during the open era, with fourteen from the 1985 US Open through the 1989 Australian Open. (Federer has the longest streak. Through Wimbledon in 2009, he has reached at least the semifinals of 21 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments.)
  • For eleven consecutive years (1981-1991), reached at least one Grand Slam final (equaled by Pete Sampras 1992-2002).
  • For seven consecutive years (1983-1989), won at least 20 Grand Slam Matches.
  • Four times the year-end World No. 1 (1985-1987, 1989) (tied with John McEnroe and Federer, after Sampras with six years and Connors with five years).
  • One of five players (the others being Connors, McEnroe, Sampras, and Federer) who were the year-end World No. 1 for at least three consecutive years (1985-1987).
  • One of five players (the others being Connors, Sampras, Lleyton Hewitt, and Federer) who held the top ranking every week of a calendar year.
  • ITF World Champion (1985-1987, 1990).
  • ATP Player of The Year (1985-1987).
  • ATP Most Improved Player (1981).
  • Second in career ATP tournament singles titles, with 94. (Connors won 109 ATP singles titles.)
  • Second in weeks (270) as the World No. 1 player. (Sampras was the top ranked player for 286 weeks.)
  • Third (behind Connors and Federer) in most consecutive weeks (157) as the World No. 1 player (September 9, 1985-September 11, 1988).
  • Second (behind Connors with 659 weeks) in most consecutive weeks (588) among top 5 ranked players (October 20, 1980-January 20, 1992).
  • Second (behind Connors with 788 weeks) in most consecutive weeks (626) among top 10 ranked players (May 19, 1980-May 11, 1992).
  • Second in career singles match wins (1,071) at ATP tournaments. (Connors won 1,222 matches.)
  • Longest winning streak indoors: 66 matches between April 1981 (lost to Smid, Frankfurt 2R) and January 1983 (lost to McEnroe, Philadelphia F).
  • Second longest winning streak on all surfaces: 44 matches during 1981-1982 (after Guillermo Vilas with 46 matches from 1977).
  • Only player to have won three tournaments in three consecutive weeks on three different surfaces (1985 Fort Myers-Hardcourt, Monte Carlo-Clay Court, Dallas, WCT Finals-Indoor Carpet).
  • Most consecutive singles finals (18) in 1981 and 1982.
  • Only male player to have won at least 90 matches in three consecutive years (1980-1982).
  • Only male player to have won at least 90 percent of his matches in five different years (1982: 106-9; 1985: 84-7; 1986: 74-6; 1987: 74-7; 1989: 79-7).
  • Nine consecutive finals (1980-88) at year-end championships in New York (called Masters Grand Prix at that time), winning five of those finals (1981-82, 1985-87).
  • Shares with Sampras the record for most Tennis Masters Cup singles titles (5).
  • Second most tournaments won (15) in a single year (1982) after Vilas who won 16 singles titles in 1977.

See also


  1. Tennis great Ivan Lendl just another golf-obsessed dad
  2. SPORTS PEOPLE; Lendl Suspended
  • Jiri Janousek, Pavel Vitous (1990). Ivan Lendl. Lidove nakladatelstvi, Praha, Czechoslovakia. ISBN 80-7022-088-0.
  • Ivan Lendl, George Mendoza (1986). Hitting Hot: Ivan Lendl's 14-days Tennis Clinic. Random House, Inc., New York. ISBN 0-394-55407-8.

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